Monday, September 29, 2008

Four score and seven years ago

"Patrons stroll through the museum portion of the new Gettysburg visitor center, which also includes the restored Cyclorama painting, artifacts and is in walking distance to the Historic Gettysburg battlefield."

One of the best things about being a photojournalist, aside from "100 Things Completely Right About Our Jobs," is getting to meet new people and often getting to visit new places each and everyday.

A couple weeks ago, not only did I meet a bunch of new folks, I also got to travel to the home of battle with the largest number of casualties during the American Civil War - Gettysburg, Pa.

For as long as I could remember, I've always wanted to venture up to Gettysburg to catch a glimpse of this historic town, battle field and possibly hunt some ghosts.

Now, let's get a couple things straight first.

For starts, I am not believer in ghosts, spirits, what have you. Sure I've had my share of spooks and what I could possibly call haunts, but not enough to say these paranormal ideologies exist.

In contrast, I have heard stories of the popular attraction (read: fun and spooky) to the town during October and Halloween. So with that, I'd still be willing to at least be scared by (fake or real) ghosts.

Second, I am no historian. From what I can recall, I've never been a fan of history courses in school, and my grades, no matter what the era of time and course, can attest.

That doesn't go to say my 11th grade U.S. History course with good old Mr.Walker wasn't one of my favorite classes and professors in my schooling career. His method of teaching was one I will always remember and it was one course I can still recall a lot of the facts.

OK, I am getting side tracked. Although Mr.Walker taught me everything I know about U.S. History, so it's important to this post. And I had fun trying to recall my knowledge with some of the local reenactor in Gettysburg.

Moving along. What was awesome about this assignment was that not only was I working, I was learning and having some fun, too. Which doesn't say much, because I always try to have a good time and learn a thing or two on every assignment.

My main objective was to get some images of the Cyclorama, which is a 360-degree circular oil-on-canvas painting that depicts climactic Confederate attack on the Union center. Along with this, I had to focus on the new visitor center, with the fresh museum and ancient artifacts that lived within.

Following that, I drove a couple miles norther and climbed on top a couple building roofs (with permission) in downtown Gettysburg for some other overall shots the editor wanted.

The assignment called for additional images, including the town square, so I asked the manager of the tallest building if I could possibly get on the roof. Just to note, I think he was more excited than I was that he got to get on the roof.

To conclude my evening, I roamed the entire battle field. All day I had been waiting to get out there see what I had been missing since 1863... I mean 1985.

You can call me crazy, but I was expecting a lot more than what it was. I guess it comes down to me still not being a huge history buff, but for those that have never been, it's not much more than a bunch of land, rock formations and statues and memorials.

Don't call me ungrateful or naive. I still enjoyed my time there and learned a little more than I had already known. I guess I was expecting reenactors, gun firing and corpses.

So aside from having to use the primitive way of getting around (a map) instead of my GPS, walking around in the rain for an hour and not seeing any ghosts or living soldiers, I had a great day in Gettysburg.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baltimore's Blaine

"Retired magician Casey Jones performs a street trick by swallowing two lit cigarettes outside Big Bad Wolf's House of Barbeque in Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood Thursday afternoon."

Magician David Blaine said in multiple articles that he was unhappy with how he ended his latest stunt: hanging upside-down in New York City for 60 hours.

My Thursday was anything but an exciting performance, yet, unlike Blaine, I enjoyed the outcome.

After calling in to see what I had going on Thursday, I was not very excited for what was looking for a one assignment, food review day.

Hoping things would change, I told my friend on the phone, "I can only hope for some sort of excitement today," as I ended our conversation and hung up.

I am starting to think I should just say that everyday I suspect things may be slow.

Sitting around until my 2 p.m. barbeque shoot, at 11 a.m. I got handed a printed Google map with the location of a shooting. Inside I cheered aloud as I grabbed my keys and headed to Central Baltimore.

I've always been addicted to breaking spot news and the mean streets of Baltimore. Yet I've never covered a murder or shooting police scene downtown. The biggest law enforcement story I've been on this summer involved Clark Rockefeller, whom was accused of kidnapping his seven-year-old daughter during a supervised visit in Boston.

For years I've always wanted to do a story on the dangerous neighborhoods of the city. There has to be more than meets the eye and so many underlying, interesting stories. However, the access to these stories is anything but safe. One day. One day.

Moving on from my tangent, police officers were in Central Baltimore at about 10:45 a.m. when they approached an apartment complex and attempted to interview a man who they believed was involved in drug activity.

The suspect began to fight with the officers, and the altercation moved into an apartment stairwell. The man grabbed at an officer's gun, and the officer secured his weapon, then fired at the suspect.

His injuries were not life-threatening, and police did find significant drugs. And while the scene was wrapping up it's investigation, it was exciting to be on streets I typically wouldn't walk and covering a spot news shooting (which I am surprised I haven't shot more this summer, I mean this is "The Wire").

Later in the day, I made my way to my food review. As I walked in I was met a man named Casey Jones. He handed me a business card, so I proceeded to hand it back.

"No, count the all the F's in the box," he said. It was a magic trick.

Although stimulated from the earlier shooting, I still decided to give this guy, who I initially thought was a begger, two minutes of my time.

As I often mention, I love meeting new people from all walks of life. I'll talk to just about anyone because you never know what their story is or what they can share.

Jones inspired me in someway. I guess because he was an fascinating person. He told me to pull my shoulders together and stand up straight. He told me I had a great personality. He was just an honest man.

He showed me three tricks before I made my way into to my assignment. He showed me a coin trick, then swung a quarter on a metal clothes hanger and then swallowed two lit cigarettes.

It was a nice light conversation that I think could turn into possibly a feature story. He told me of his old days and how he just likes to entertain others, as he made his way into the restaurant for lunch.

The only problem is that he left so abruptly. All he gave me was his name and a brief background before I got the chance to ask for any further information other than his name.

So 600 words later, the point of this post sums up that you never know what you will really be doing, or whom you may meet as a journalist each day.

I guess that's just one of the endless reasons I love this profession. I love spontaneity.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can't put it down

"Early morning passerby make their way by the Kite Loft headquarters on Fifth Street on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., Monday, September 22."

As previously mentioned, I went to Ocean City, Md., over the weekend. It was a rare occasion to have three days off in a row and with summer, well, basically over with the first day of fall being the other day, I couldn't pass up the trip.

Much like any other visit, my travel mostly consisted of consuming greasy, unhealthy, sky-rocketing cholesterol meals.

I cannot say I don't love it, but on Saturday I ate: eggs, bacon and potatoes for breakfast. Piezano's pizza (by far one of the best pizza joints in Ocean City) for lunch. Chicken wings and beer for happy hour. More beer and a foot-long cheesesteak sub with doughnuts for a late dinner.

Only if Dining at Large had a top ten list of don't-eat-these-all-in-one-day-when-at-the-beach list.

Until she does, I'll continue to gain weight and try and walk it off the next day when down on the shore.

Aside from all the food I managed to shovel in, and yes I had sushi (I am a sushi connoisseur, even though nothing in the states compares to Japan), the weather was nice and the crowds were thin.

But the one thing I never do when on a vacation, be it a couple days or weeks, is put down my camera.

One would think after shooting photos all day and evening that the last thing I would want to do is shoot more. I guess it goes to show that I love what I do and it's not really a profession, rather than a way of life.

I think I've touched on that before on here, so I won't go into detail now. Not to mention I am falling asleep as I finish this post up.

Although my camera was on my shoulder all weekend, I really didn't shoot that much. I had estimated maybe having shot 50 frames total, so I just checked. 71. That's nothing for three days.
And from those 71 frames, it was apparent I had shot a bunch of silhouettes for some odd reason. I have no idea why, but I liked the above the best from the weekend.

Possibly because I was thinking that I was so full at the time that I would never be able to float so effortlessly like a kite. Who knows. I always see those kites when I am on the boardwalk, but have never captured them before.

Until my next trip to the beach, I'll try and eat a bit healthier.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wrongful execution, right shutter time

"Michael Austin recalls his 27 years in prison before being exonerated in 2003 during a news conference with five exonerated men, including three who had been on death row, in the Anne Arundel County Delegation Room in the House Office building in Annapolis."

I was watching television last night and as I surfed the channels mindlessly trying to find something that struck my attention, I caught the end of a small story on a recent subject of mine from earlier this month - Ray Krone.

Krone was the 100th person to be exonerated when he left Arizona's death row in 2002, and was at a public hearing to help spread the word against what he says is a broken system with the death penalty in Annapolis.

Although a indirect subject during the assignment, Krone spoke during a public hearings on capital punishment, in which the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment explored the risk of innocent people being executed. Many of the people whom were exonerated told their story of their own wrongful conviction.

In addition to Krone, another half-dozen exonerated men spoke, including Michael Austin (above), who spent 27 years in prison for murder before a re-examination of the evidence that led to his freedom in 2001 and then a governor's pardon and a $1.4 million award from the state.

It was pretty interesting to hear these men talk about their time behind bars when they knew deep down inside they were innocent. It also added an untold side to the ongoing debate of whether or not to abolish the death penalty in Maryland.

Now this assignment was a typical press conference setup. A lectern in the middle of a room in Annapolis and a television cameraman with more than 25 people filling the space.

Most of these men, while happy to have their freedom again, didn't have much emotion. So I tried to focus on subtle moments.

I was once told that it's the subtle moments that can often be storytelling, whether or not we initally think so. In this case it was Austin rubbing his forehead as he tried to recall exact dates and accounts of his time in prison.

To me, this image tells the story of these wrongfully convicted men trying to pass along their trials and tribulations of capital punishment. In comparison, I could have easily made a image of them simply standing behind a microphone addressing reporters, the public and others listening.

Austin wasn't upset, but it was obvious he didn't like having to dig deep inside himself to recall what he said was an unfortunate time in his life. Much like the others, they had some emotion of frustration and sadness, but not visually apparent the entire time.

I am happy I focused on this quick, subtle moment to help tell the story to the readers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A quick tale: 6400

"Arundel wide receiver Alec Lemon (no.2) keeps his eyes on the ball as he pulls in his first of two touchdowns during the first half against Broadneck at Broadneck High School on Friday, Sept. 6, 2008. Arundel led, 21-7, over Broadneck at halftime."

I am in Ocean City, Md., until this evening, but I figured I'd share a quick tale of 6400.

If you're not a camera person, you're probably wondering what I am speaking of. In contrast, if you're a photographer, you are already one step ahead of the game.

Since getting my Nikon D3 I have not really pushed the light sensitively or ISO (a la old school film speed), but have been wanting to give it a go for a long time.

Here and there I've played around with the setting, yet never on assignment. So two-weeks ago I got my chance at a high school football game.

Now, lights at a prep school are usually horrible. Sure they are fine for the athletes in action and the parents spectating, however, for a camera its always been a struggle and challenge.

Luckily, the Nikon D3 has changed that. Before, typically us photographers would be crazy to push the camera to 1600 ISO. Now we are crazy not to use 6400 without confidence.

The above is a fairly tight crop and at 6400 ISO. The play celebration after the catch ended up running about four-columns and looked absolutely fantastic.

Now, I am giving the camera the benefit of the doubt, as newsprint has always hidden grainy photos since it's like printing on Charmin.

However, this D3 cover shot for Sports Illustrated at ISO 3200 by David Bergman turned out stunningly beautiful. It was even cropped from a horizontal shot and still held up.

Oh, how I love the D3.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stop the whistles

"A field hockey player since sixth grade, Centennial senior goalie Liz Snyder will look to help guide the Eagles to a Howard County championship in the 2008 season."

Ever get an assignment and become excited? Sure you have. We do it all the time. Once you get it, you preconceive all the different elements that you think will make a remarkable image. All day you look forward to it, trying to map out your game plan.

This happens more often than not for me, but something changed that made me have to put a spin on my intended shoot when I arrived.

Approximately three weeks ago I got my first sportrait of the Fall sports season. I was pumped.

I should note that I love shooting sportraits (mom note: sport + portrait). There is something about getting one-on-one time with an athlete to make them look totally, for a lack of better words, bad ass.

Although they can become redundant, it's a challenge to try and come up with something new each and everytime.

Anyways, my first sportrait of this soccer player was a complete flop. I had over thought my idea and then was put in a tight situation where the coach was badgering me to get the player back to practice.

So I went with safe, pedestrian image, yet lit her with two lights. I was disappointed in myself. I needed another one to make up for my lack luster attempt.

Well, last week I got my chance. I was amped when I knew I had the possibility to redeem myself, so I wanted to "blow it up" and "work it" as I am often told.

This time around it was to shoot a field hockey player. She was a senior and looking to lead her squad to another Howard County championship.

The assignment didn't have much information on the player, so I assumed she was the power forward that soaked up all the ink in the paper in the score box each with a lot of statistics.

I was right about a lot of statistics. Wrong about her position. She was the goalie. I had to scratch all my previous ideas of an attacker.

Luckily I had a nice dramatic sky to work with and totally killed all the ambient. But I didn't know if the player would go for it or it would fit her.

She was a really polite girl with a fantastic personality, and I always try to scope out the personality of the player, subject beforehand. But she kept telling me how intense she was and that she didn't want to smile, so I went with the dramatic light, although she did have a little smirk on her face.

I was happy with it. Sure I could have done a little better, as I always feel I can after a shoot, but it made me feel better about my last sportrait.

I am just glad it was only a portrait and not a game. They never stop blowing the whistle during field hockey and quite frankly I have no idea what they are sounding it for.

Well, I am off to the beach (following my shift) since I have the weekend and Monday off, so I should be back Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend people.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Loosening, catching up

"Ten-year-old Colleen Caton, grandchild of Theresa Fischer, takes a break from sorting clothing at The Blue House Clothing Ministry located in Bel Air, Md., Thursday, July 10. The group takes in donated clothing and allows needy to search and take what they need for free. They have been a vision of the church since the beginning of the parish, when they were just a mission more than 10 years ago."

I've let this one slip through the cracks, which I guess can be translated into lots of wasted ones and zeros on the Internet and my blog. Since I am averaging about two to three assignments a day, I have a lot of images and stories I want to share, yet posting everyday is tough.

With that, I am trying to play catch up with some of the older posts I have yet to share. In coming weeks I am going to try and throw them up in between the more recent stuff.

So without further ado, here is a little story on an assignment I shot earlier this summer.

Camera companies invented the wide angle lens for a reason. To capture tight spaces in one frame.

I generally shoot tight, but will work with a 24-70mm (on a full frame sensor) often. I am again in love with my prime lenses, too, but I will every once in a while put my super wide to work.

Roughly in the beginning of July before getting to my assignment, I knew I would need a wide lens as this non-profit group would be unloading a truck.

Basically the group, The Blue House Clothing Ministry, takes in donated clothing and allows needy to search and take what they need for free. They have been a vision of a local church in Bel Air since the beginning of the parish, when they were just a mission more than 10 years ago.

From what I gathered, they used to be housed in a parishioner's home, and was called the "Rack of the Lamb." But the group needed more space and a more public location to minister to those in need.

I needed to hang out at this blue little house for about an hour and get some telling images of them sorting clothing and unloading a truck. Thus why I thought I would need my super wide.

To my dismay, the truck never showed, however, the space which they sorted, folded clothes in was tiny. And if that wasn't enough, there were six people in this small room including me.

It was tough staying out of their way, but they were subjects I love. They truly acted like I wasn't really there, so I made some candid images that I normally have trouble getting of people when they are too worried about the camera and me walking around.

The above image didn't really tell their story, but I liked it. The reason because I fit almost everyone into one frame as they took a break. It is a little chaotic and too loose for what I normally shoot, but I like the composition of it all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Never forget

"The Howard County Police and Fire Honor Guard, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Police Chief Bill McMahon, and Fire Chief Joseph Herr march a wreath to be laid at a ceremony honoring heroes who gave their lives for the United States on September 11, 2001, during the terrorist attacks on our nation, in the Garden of Hope Monument in Centennial Park."

The tragedy of 9/11: the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center is remembered as a day Americans will never forget.

Last Wednesday marked the eighth anniversary of the tragic day and was filled with remembrance ceremonies not only in Baltimore, but throughout the country, too.

The event I shot was brief, but did the job of remembering local heroes who gave their lives for our country on September 11, 2001, during the terrorist attacks on our nation.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Police Chief Bill McMahon and Fire Chief Joseph Herr honored those heroes during a ceremony marked by a wreath-laying and the presentation of colors by the Howard County Police & Fire Honor Guard.

Following the event, I reflected on where I was eight years ago.

I was in high school, a junior sitting in one of my favorite teacher, Mr. Grove's, Drawing II class.

It was like any typical school day as I sat up front in the class half asleep.

Then it all unfolded in front of our eyes.

A classmate came running into the classroom. She looked puzzled, shocked. Then she announced that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. She had overheard someone on the phone relaying the news.

I didn't know what to think. Being in high school I often would hear a bunch of rubbish that was made up. But this wasn't.

Without delay, my teacher turned on the small classroom television, and the room got completely silent. Every station was broadcasting a live coverage of the attacks. Everyone's eyes and ears were glued to CNN.

Sadness overcame one student, as skateboarders yelled "Anarchy!" At this point I was still speechless as news anchors tried to solve the puzzling smoke and fire pouring from the ginormous landmarks in New York City.

Roughly 10 minutes later, still gazing into television, the other tower was struck. Horrific. I didn't know what to think, I didn't know what to say. It was the craziest thing I'd have ever witnessed live on television.

I knew what I saw. Yet wasn't sure if it was true. I saw the explosion. Was it really another attack? I didn't know exactly what it was.

I didn't take into account the lives that were instantly lost. I just felt a overwhelming sense of sadness and vulnerability. I won't lie. I was scared.

Too young to remember the details of the Oklahoma bombing and other attacks on the United States, I was worried about my state of safety as well as the rest of the country.

School was dismissed within an hour of the second plane crashing into the towers. My mother was waiting for me at our front door as I got home.

I was still confused. The entire day was so vivid, yet so blurry.

Nonetheless, it was a crazy day. One I'll never forget. One the country will never forget.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Glimpsed and glittered

"Tracey Colvin of Owings Mills, is Glimpsed at the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville, Md."

Shooting for a newspaper does not mean one will always be covering hard-hitting news. More or less, the articles people enjoy reading relate to what they do when they aren't working: food, fun and fashion.

As a respective citizen who loves all three of those things, I don't really mind shooting the "non-exciting" features, although I'd rather be out shooting the big football match of the week, a fire in the city or some other compelling topic.

These little assignments will always be around and I put same effort into them as I would the larger stories.

About a month ago I got to shoot my first fashion piece and had a blast.

I've done the standard food review, the book review and the review of a review, but never fashion.

Now, I am not much a fashion guru, so maybe that's why? I am not sure.

On any given day, one can find me in jeans, a white t-shirt and a causal button-up or polo shirt. On my feet, never anything besides a nice pair of subtle hiking shoes or boots. I feel comfortable wearing what I do, and that is the most important thing to me.

So one could say that I am an average to good dresser. I absolutely don't wear a shirt and tie everyday, nor ripped jeans and flip-flops.

My one girlfriend once told me I was one of the best dressed in our college class. But that doesn't really say much when others came still in pajamas.

Although I don't consider myself a classy dresser, I guess I do still have the ability to seek those that are better dressed than others, and those whom may be overdressed.

Anyways, the fashion assignment has a designated space in the paper called Glimpsed.

The reporter is really hip, fun and the minute I saw her pull up in her little Smart Car I knew I'd have some excitement.

That doesn't go to say I wasn't extremely nervous the entire drive over thinking I'd have to find someone fashionable. I can only see the look on my editor's faces when I transmitted a couple images of a dudes and chicks in jeans and t-shirts. Ha. I was so glad I had a great reporter to work with.

So after finding a nice location to shoot some portraits, and setting up some lights, the reporter asked for my help to glimpse around the restaurant for three willing, nicely clothed patrons.

Since the subjects had some cocktails in them, it made my job easy, and the smiles came naturally as we had fun with the shoots.

Following the first two subjects, the reporter and I were a bit stumped on who to make our last, if you will, model.

For myself, a good personalty will always trump a nice looking person, and one woman at the bar had a great one.

Not to say she wasn't fashionable or attractive, she just had a really nice attitude.

My one concern, since this was my first fashion shoot, was giving the subject too much power and ego. Putting a camera on a good looking person can be tricky sometimes, but all in all I had some great people to work with and can't say I didn't have fun doing it.

I'll be looking forward to my next fashion shoot, hopefully before the next food review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On the floor of Annapolis

"Chairman Civiletti and other Members of the Capital Punishment Commission listen as they hold the third in a series of public hearings with regard to the status of capital punishment in the State of Maryland in the Joint Hearing Room at Legislative Services Building on Tuesday. Each hearing will address specific topics with regard to capital punishment. The following topics were discussed: The Effects of Prolonged Capital Court Cases as well as the Cost Comparison of Death Penalty and Less-Than-Death Alternative Sentences."

One of the big issues in Annapolis this year has been the death penalty and whether or not to abolish it.

I'll admit, I have not been following every detail, but have been keeping up to date with it since I've been on assignment for it twice this past month.

The first time, my assignment was to shoot as the Capital Punishment Commission held their third in a series of public hearings with regard to the status of capital punishment in the State of Maryland. Of course if was held in Annapolis in the Joint Hearing Room at Legislative Services Building.

If it isn't clear about was going on, basically each hearing addressed specific topics with regard to capital punishment, such as: The Effects of Prolonged Capital Court Cases as well as the Cost Comparison of Death Penalty and Less-Than-Death Alternative Sentences, and so on.

And to put the scene in detail, it's just like any other hearing. A center table with a microphone facing a panel of government folk, in this case the Capital Punishment Commission, and a public audience behind.

While the topic is very important to not only myself as a resident of Maryland, and all of those involved, I was not very content at the hearing.

Why? Because this is not a very photogenic event. Nor is anything that ever happens in this joint hearing room I've been in before.

It's not that the topics are important or the people speaking and listening aren't important. It's just that people speaking with no real emotion in the same spots is tough to make interesting.

A quick side note: Not long ago, I was trying to recall all the times I've been to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, for assignments.

To this date, I've still yet to shoot any images I actually like from any event. Be it college baseball, Navy football or basketball, Blue Angel, and anything in or surrounding the U.S. Naval Academy.

OK, what I should clarify is not that I don't not like my images, I just haven't gotten anything that particularly stands out. I can recall almost every assignment I've had down there, but none of my images say, "Hey, that was a great shot or I loved that one for personal reason."

Conversely, for some small, unknown reason, while camped out sitting on the floor of this hearing, which was challenging to come up with something eye catching, I got an image which I liked.

It's nothing too special, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I've shot similar frames in the past, but it works for actual story and my story of trying to find an interesting and sitting on the floor the entire time.

Maybe it's the way he kept removing his glasses as he listened closely to the witnesses. I really don't have a solid answer to elaborate with.

I am glad I found something to keep me entertained and challenged on this assignment. I learned a lot from those speaking and responding, but I was more focused on telling the story and making some art.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Man on the boat

"As his boat rocks back and forth like a seesaw, owner of ELF, Rick Carrion gathers materials to change the oil beneath the cabin in Annapolis."

Sometimes you get lucky and having to shoot a docked boat two-weeks ago did not seem very exciting to me. I needed some luck.

Shooting stationary subjects such as buildings, cars, signs,boats, etc., etc., are fairly easy for the most part. Unless that is, you're trying to get a better vantage point.

When I was transmitting my first assignment from the local area Annapolis Panera Beard following my first assignment of the U.S. Naval Academy Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler, I was told to zoom by the downtown docks and look for "Elf" and grab a couple quick frames.

Apparently the Elf I was looking for didn't involve a horrible movie played by Will Ferrell. It was a 30-foot racing cutter built in 1888.

I had no idea what a racing cutter was, but was told ELF was anchored at the future site of the National Sailing Hall of Fame through Saturday. In addition, the boat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is entered in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. Plus, the National Sailing Hall of Fame would be one of Elf’s permanent homes on the Chesapeake Bay.

OK, so I am looking for an old racing cutter in a marina full of boats. To my dismay, and without any trouble, I located the boat.

One problem though. The boat was docked and had the most unimaginable, cluttered background. No matter where I shot the boat from, I was struggling to separate the boat from it's habitat.

I did my best to try and find angles that made the boat "pop" and before I left wanted to see if I could discover any closer angles. Luckily there was, and the dock which the boat was parked, was open to the public, getting me an up and personal glimpse.

Following a couple frames, I hear some footsteps on the boards of the dock.

"Hey, there! Go ahead, get on board if you'd like," said this gentlemen.

I was hesitant, so I asked who he was. He was Rick Carrion, the owner of ELF.

Inside I cheered aloud, I couldn't have been happier. Not only was I going to get some images I didn't think I was going to get, I could now try and incorporate a human element to the pedestrian, stale images I had taken of the boat earlier.

As Carrion readied his boat for a trip to Philadelphia the next morning, I hung out aboard his vessel making some frames him and his boat.

Now, I should mention. I've traveled every mode of legitimate transportation: trains in Tokyo, boats in Hawaii, taxis in New York City, cars everyday in Maryland, planes around the world, and bikes in the forest, to name a few.

But the vehicle of travel that makes me nauseated each and everytime I get on one are boats. I am not sure what led me to be this way, well, maybe the ginormous swells in Hawaii, but even the smallest of boats get me.

Let's just say I didn't last very long on Carrion's boat, especially when I was checking out below the deck, which was barely enough for two people.

I could feel the green starting to overcome my body.

Anyways, I was lucky to bump into the owner of the boat, and sometimes luck is all you can ask for in situations like these.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Post-career years

"Charlie Conklin, whom is retired, helps care for the environment by doing tree maintenance at the Old Cloverland Farms Dairy Site, which is at Dulaney Valley road and Windemere Pkwy. After many years working for Bethlehem Steel, Conklin retired, but instead of heading for the golf course, Conklin headed straight for tree planting and other conservation sites. By doing so, Conklin joins a growing number of retirees who are looking for meaning in their post-career years."

Sometimes you're not as prepared as you think when you arrive to an assignment. But you must ignore that and get the job done.

Back in July I was excited to have an early morning shoot close to home. I knew I didn't have to fight traffic and I had the chance to sleep in a couple extra minutes.

The story was about the growing number of retirees who are looking for meaning in their post-career years.

My assignment sounded interesting on the computer, and it was outside, which is always a plus. Yet I had passed the location before and realized that it wasn't much other than trees and grass. It was merely an open field.

Anyways, my job was to hang out with Charlie Conklin, a Bethlehem Steel retiree whom now helps care for the environment by doing tree maintenance at an old farm.

He was one of the nicest subjects I've shot this summer and what can I say, I learned a lot from the guy. But as nice as he was, he didn't have an extra pair of boots for me to borrow.

Why did I need boots? Well, the area Conklin planted trees in was actually where I had recalled driving by - an overgrown pasture in rural Baltimore County. The lush green grass was at the lowest knee-high. And I should mention, the assignment and his work began at 7 a.m., so one can only image how damp the summer grass was.

Instead of complaining that I'd get soaked, that had another assignment to go to afterward or shooting from afar with a long lens, I braved the soaking grass.

Within minutes of trekking through the tall blades, my pants, socks and shoes were drenched. It was no different than walking in a three-foot deep pool.

After about an hour passed, I started to head back toward my car. I had made some nice images of Conklin and his crew doing maintenance on more than a hundred trees in the area.

Then again, I knew I wasn't prepared. I felt Conklin reach and touch me on the shoulder. He wasn't trying to get my attention, he was pulling a crawling tick from my shirt.

"Patrick, I should mention. Check yourself over at least twice when you get home for ticks. They are everywhere out here," Conklin said.

Great. If he only knew ticks didn't mix, nor get along. So you could say I was again not prepared as I didn't put on any bug repellent.

Following the assignment, and before my next, I jetted home to shower, dry off and pull three ticks from my legs.

Lets just say now I keep more than just an extra pair of shoes and socks in my trunk. I now keep a full wardrobe change with boots and bug spray among other things. I learned my lesson.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Discovering an overlooked image

"Johns Hopkins midfielder Garrett Stanwick screams in jubilation with teammates following an upset victory over the Duke Blue Devils in the Division I NCAA Men's Lacrosse National Championship tournament game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., May 28, 2007. "

Nothing is more cliché than starting a paper, article, book, what have you, with a definition. So I am not going to rip and read post the meaning of the word labor.

Instead, I am going to tell you what Labor Day is in my third sentence of this blog and then probably bore you with what I did on my Labor Day.

Did you know that Labor Day is a United States federal holiday that takes place on the first Monday in September? You didn't? Well, then did you know the holiday began in 1882, originating from a desire by the Central Labor Union to create a day off for the "working man."

Neither did I, and to be frank, this day have never really had a direct effect on me, other than I never had to go to school on this day.

Anyways, I was scheduled to work this past Labor Day and had no problems with it. I knew it probably wouldn't be that exciting, so I got a chance to catch up on some archiving for the paper and myself.

Starting my shift at 2:30 p.m., I exited the elevator and made my way back to the photo department of the paper. The newsroom was a ghost town, everyone aside from myself and a handful of lingering editors and reporters occupied the office. Everyone else had the day off.

So with the lounge to myself, I caught up on reading some blogs, articles and checked out my fellow shooters work that may have not been published.

I questioned whether or not to go look for some feature art, as the morning shooter had shot the last day of the fair which would probably get the go ahead. I made a couple laps to my favorite spots, but didn't find anything too visual.

As time passed with no set assignments, I realized that if anything, I could begin my task of burning way too many DVDs for my normal liking. It would catch me up with where I needed to be with the paper, daily work, and also help clear some much needed hard drive space on my laptop.

After getting my work related backing-up finished, I moved over to my laptop which was littered with too many assignments screaming, "Burn me to a DVD, please."

Some of the assignments I had dated back to 2006, while others from last week. In relation to size, some were only a couple megabytes, while others exceeded the capacity of a DVD.

One that was too large to fit onto one DVD was the Division I NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament at M&T Bank Stadium from May 2007.

I guess why the file was so large was because it was a championship game, and aside from the heavy shooting of the see-sawing one-goal game, I had also shot the jubilation and dejection at the end of the match.

What I wanted to do though, was fit the entire game onto one disc. This would save me from losing one or the other DVDs, or having trouble trying to find a certain image later down the road.
So what I did was something I typically wouldn't do. I went through my take deleting completely out of focus or back focused images. This also helped me find an image I had over looked and forgot to move following the game last year.

Often I'll do this. Whether it’s a week, a month or a year later. I'll simply pop in a DVD or plug in my external hard drive and take another look at certain assignments. Not only does this help me see how I was shooting previously, but it helps me find images I let get away when on a tight deadline.

This is one of those images and I am glad I found it.

As for now, I am inspired by a colleague’s video he is working on the destruction of a building downtown. From what he showed me, it's going to be a very nice piece of work, which he says is in the tune to "Baraka" which I haven't seen (yet just ordered).

Back to recently shot and published assignments later this week.